By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
Charlie LaDuca is 65 years old and a recently retired teacher from the elementary school ranks. He has also coached high school baseball for 23 years. He started playing in the Buffalo MSBL in 1992 and then in 1993 formed the Chautauqua MSBL located in Fredonia, New York, which is located in the western tip of New York state. Charlie’s passion for all things baseball led him to start Pro Bats LLC, a very successful wood bat company, in 2002. MSBL is very pleased to welcome Charlie and Pro Bats as an advertiser on the MSBL national website. As a blue blood MSBL veteran and a full time wood bat manufacturer for sixteen years he is hopeful that the MSBL nation will give his company some attention.
“My company started in 2002,” explained LaDuca. “It was at the beginning of the resurgence of wood bats. A local company was making maple bats. I went to the factory and bought one and talked them into letting me take some samples to the MSBL World Series in Phoenix. When I returned they asked if I wanted to sell bats for them. I told them I would rather form my own company and the rest is history.”
Charlie is indeed a veteran of the MSBL World Series as a player. “My first trip to the MSBL World Series was in 1994. I have only missed playing in it once since then. I have played in the 35+, 45+, 55+ and Father/Son. I’m still chasing the elusive ring. The closest I came to a ring was playing in the 45+ division for Team New Era. I was pitching in the Championship game and left the game with one out in the ninth and a one run lead. Unfortunately we could not hold on for the win.”
Charlie and I discussed what goes into a quality bat and why his bats are as good as anybody’s. “What makes our bats unique is the quality and consistency of each bat we produce. We have a professional production team with many years of wood working experience under their belts. This business is all about the wood. Our long term relationship with various companies that produce wood billets allows us access to the best wood available on the planet.
“This is not a boast it is pure fact. I will put the quality of our bats up against any large or small wood bat company doing business today. Equally important is our promise to never let an inferior bat leave our factory. It’s expensive to throw out marginal wood, but that is exactly what we do every day. Every bat that comes off our production line is the very best we can make. No blems or seconds. One grade only. Our Pro Stock Maple.”
Pro Bats is not your usual half-dozen styles available in either black or flame treated. “We currently produce nineteen models of hitting bats in thirty colors,” Charlie further explained. “We also produce youth bats, fungos, one hand trainers, overload and under load bats, award bats, birth announcement bats and accessories such as bat cleaners and grip aides.”
Charlie continues to play in the 25-over Chautauqua MSBL and is a member of the 2016 league champion Yankees. He is a former speedster outfielder and pitcher but some knee operations slowed him down ten years ago. But he continues to take the bump and spend an occasional afternoon patrolling first base. “First base seems to be the spot where you go when you can’t run anymore but I’m happy to still be helping out.”
Are there any Pro Bats in the professional ranks? “The licensing fees through Major League Baseball is extremely expensive and then you have to have high liability insurance limits,” said LaDuca. “I would have to pass that cost along to someone and I’d rather keep my prices competitive and concentrate on quality at the individual player level. The quality of each piece is why I’m doing this.”
“The motto of my company is ‘A Company by a Player for Players.’ I treat each and every customer exactly the way I would like to be treated. We never cut corners. We produce top of the line quality and unmatched one on one customer service. I handle each transaction personally. I keep the company small by design so I have the time to answer questions and offer my years of baseball and manufacturing experience to each and every customer. I try to look at each order through the eyes of a player rather than a salesman.”
To find out more about Pro Bats you can click on their website at www.probats.net. Charlie is offering a special for MSBL players. Just type in MSBL2017 at checkout to receive 10% off their already competitive prices. I have already ordered mine!